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Dreams of FlightDreams of Flight

General Aviation in the United States

Janet R. Daley Bednarek and Michael H. Bednarek

Narrated by Jim Seitz

Available from Audible

Book published by Texas A&M University Press

General aviation encompasses all the ways aircraft are used beyond commercial and military flying: private flights, barnstormers, cropdusters, and so on. Authors Janet and Michael Bednarek have taken on the formidable task of discussing the hundred-year history of this broad and diverse field by focusing on the most important figures and organizations in general aviation and the major producers of general aviation aircraft and engines.

This history examines the many airplanes used in general aviation, from early Wright and Curtiss aircraft to the Piper Cub and the Lear Jet. The authors trace the careers of birdmen, birdwomen, barnstormers, and others who shaped general aviation—from Clyde Cessna and the Stinson family of San Antonio to Olive Ann Beech and Paul Poberezny of Milwaukee. They explain how the development of engines influenced the development of aircraft, from the E-107 that powered the 1929 Aeronca C-2, the first affordable personal aircraft, to the Continental A-40 that powered the Piper Cub, and the Pratt and Whitney PT-6 turboprop used on many aircraft after World War II.

In addition, the authors chart the boom and bust cycle of general aviation manufacturers, the rising costs and increased regulations that have accompanied a decline in pilots, the creation of an influential general aviation lobby in Washington, and the growing popularity of “type” clubs, created to maintain aircraft whose average age is twenty-eight years.

This book provides readers with a sense of the scope and richness of the history of general aviation in the United States. An epilogue examining the consequences of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, provides a cautionary note.

Janet R. Daley Bednarek received her Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh. She is currently an associate professor and chair of the department of history at the University of Dayton. She has worked with the Air Force History and Museum Programs and has written on urban and aviation history, including America’s Airports, the first title in the Centennial of Flight Series, published by Texas A&M University Press.

Michael H. Bednarek received his MS from the Air Force Institute of Technology. In 1988, he completed a twenty-year active duty USAF military career as an aeronautical engineer and program manager. He now works as an acquisition manager with Dynamics Research Corporation.


Dreams of Flight is a timely, concise, and readable history of general aviation in the United States over the last hundred years by two authors who are themselves pilots... an important work that highlights general aviation’s important contribution to American’s growth and development during the twentieth century... Dreams of Flight is a welcome addition to the American aviation history, and its lucid prose makes it accessible to a wide audience, from aviation enthusiasts to scholars and students.”

—Dr. Richard Byers, professor of history at North Georgia College and State University

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University Press Audiobooks